Story by Zakiya Austin


The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Testing Program (ACT) have been the standardized tests for the measurement of academic proficiency for years. The SAT was created in 1926 and the ACT in 1959 as a uniform way to compare intelligence and propinquity for reasoning among high school students.

From the origin, the scores have been used by colleges to determine which students are worthy of admission. It is helpful for them as it provides a standard playing field; hints, standardized testing.

Although there are obvious flaws to this system, such as intelligence being measured in a way that not all students think, and some students may not want to take it, these tests are important and should be taken seriously. Even though there is no set number for a “good score,” collegiate selection is very competitive, and SAT and ACT scores are an important factor in the process.

The SAT composite score can be anywhere between 400 and 1600. On the ACT, scores range from 1 to 36. Different colleges or universities require a variety of scores as their base acceptance score. Colleges with open enrollment do not require an SAT or ACT score. Again, there is no set number to achieve a “good score,” but a student should strive for a score that reflects the quality of the college or university they want to attend.

There are resources available to help students get the best score possible. Several educational companies publish books claiming to improve scores by up to a certain amount of points, and those are helpful, but the most commonly bought SAT/ACT practice book is made by College Board who are the makers of the test. This book includes helpful tips and tricks as well as practice tests modeled for the actual format of the test.

Dutch Fork also offers an SAT crash course near the beginning of the year and other schools and libraries in the area offer SAT/ACT Prep courses. There are also online practice guides including, which has a different SAT problem every day.

Financially, the SAT/ACT can cause a strain on some families or students. For this, there are need-based waivers that can be applied for. For students who receive free or reduced lunch, you could also receive free or reduced prices on the SAT or ACT. For more information on the application process, or to apply, visit the school counseling office.

There are also colleges that will pay for your SAT or ACT in exchange for your application and consideration. This is not something that can be applied for because it is decided by the college based on academic merit. For those who have invested in the SAT Prep classes, a lot of the time there will be an opportunity to take the SAT or ACT for free or at a reduced price.

There are general suggestions about deciding which test to take when the time comes. The ACT has surpassed the SAT and is now the most commonly taken, however the choice should be made based on which areas a student shows strength in. Those who are more mathematically and scientifically minded, it is recommended that they take the ACT because it highlights those areas more than the SAT. Those who have a propinquity for English and language should lean more toward the SAT.

With the SAT, there is the option of testing with the essay portion. If you do not add it, it cannot hurt your score, but if you are an english-oriented student, the essay could help your score if you feel lost on the multiple choice portion. The prompts are usually simple enough to understand even if you are not familiar with the subject matter and really gives a chance to show off your writing ability.

Remember that there’s no limit to how many times you can take the SAT or ACT, and the more times you take it, the more potential you have to reach the score you want. Start early, work hard, do well and colleges will see your effort and that will reflect in your consideration for admission.